No. 400: Year in Review
⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Goodbye, 2022 · Hello, 2023 · Year in Review · Much More!
Good morning, everyone.
This is our four hundredth daily newsletter and first email of the new year. It's very fitting that we start the new year with a nice, even number like four hundred.
Last year in this space, I did everything from defending the rights of smokers and evangelizing the superiority of long-rise pants to satirizing the city's prioritization of tourism above all else and exploring Harpeth Hall's turn toward out-and-out wokeness.
It's a privilege to be able to spend time each day writing for all of you, and I hope– at a minimum– you leave our newsletter a little better informed and entertained each day. That is our goal.
These newsletters are packed with information. I encourage you to learn which parts you find value in and focus on those. It could be the essays we link to at the bottom. It could be Megan's coverage of Metro Council (by far the best and most in-depth in Nashville). It could be our event calendar. Whatever the case may be, we deliberately cover a wide variety of topics here without the expectation that readers will glom onto every bit of it.
In honor of our four hundredth newsletter and the start of 2023, we're asking you to help us out a bit:
- Share this newsletter with five people you think might enjoy it.
- Consider a small donation.
Donations go some of the way to ensuring we can continue serving you in-depth, hard-hitting stories, such as our series exploring the corruption at the EXIT/IN and our investigation into the water scarcity in both Jefferson and Sevier Counties. Your support guarantees there’s more to come on this front.
Thank you all for a year of loyal readership. Until then, enjoy our year-end wrap-up.
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Thanks for reading.
✹ 2022 Recap: Your Tax Dollars And Local Leaders At Work
A happy, happy new year to you! As the curator of this newsletter’s Nashville section, I present to you the top three stories of 2022, which may or may not have gotten the attention they deserved. Some of these stories are continuing to unfold, some will create precedents that influence the future of Tennessee, and others will likely remain swept under the rug.
ROBBY STARBUCK COURT CASE
Background: Leading up to the primary elections in August, Robby Starbuck, former US Congressional candidate for the 5th district, sued the Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) after being barred from running as a Republican. Though much of the mainstream news coverage revolved around the State Executive Committee’s (SEC) decision to strike Starbuck from the ballot due to improper bonafides (Starbuck did not vote as a Republican in three of the last four primary elections at the time his application was filed), the Pamphleteer covered the implications of his lawsuit.
Update: Though Starbuck’s second lawsuit briefly reinstated him to the ballot, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in favor of the TRP’s executive committee after an appeal was filed by the secretary of state's office. Drama ensued as Starbuck ginned up a write-in campaign in response to being kicked off the ballot for the second time. It’s safe to say that the implications of this whole debacle will influence Tennessee party politics in the future, and here’s how:
- The most impactful precedent set by the supreme court’s ruling to overturn Starbuck’s reinstatement to the ballot was its codification of First Amendment freedom of association rights. If the original ruling had not been overturned, it could have created solid grounds for future candidates to come forward and challenge a party’s decision to remove them as a party-affiliated candidate.
- What does this mean? It means that, in theory, the parameters set by a party to vet political candidates who want to be associated with said party would become obsolete: anyone could run as a “bona fide” candidate for any party they choose.
- Some candidates, including Starbuck, a recent emigrant from California, and Morgan Ortagus, who left New York in order to kick start her own Trump-endorsed congressional campaign, raised concerns among established residents of Tennessee. Effective April 13, 2022, a bill was passed into law that put into place a three-year state residency requirement for US congressional candidates in Tennessee; notably, the bill passed without Governor Lee’s signature.
- Additionally, Scott Golden, chairman of the Tennessee GOP, mentioned during a meeting held by the SEC that the party hopes to sharpen the language and protocol pertaining to bonafide status requirements outlined in their bylaws.
MISCAST VOTES IN DAVIDSON COUNTY
Background: On November 1st, a week before the general election and during the sunset of early voting, officials in Davidson County released information that ballots were misassigned for multiple districts. It was later determined that a total of 437 miscast votes were cast during early voting. The immediate response? The Davidson County Election Commission (DCEC) worked through the night to fix data mistakes in the system, then used media notifications to inform the 437 disenfranchised voters that they would be able to “recast” provisional ballots on Election Day at the Davidson County Election Commission headquarters. These votes would not be counted unless an election was contested in the five-day grace period after Election Day. The media–and multiple politicians–also responded to the mishap, taking the opportunity to dredge up the tired political talking points we’ve seen throughout 2022’s election cycle: gerrymandering, racism, and election integrity.
Update: On November 11th, the Pamphleteer broke the news that the mistake also had an effect on both primary and general elections in May and August of 2022 and that the potential margin of error confirmed by DCEC Administrator Jeff Roberts included 3,687 Davidson County voters. A court-ordered investigation into the matter resulted in a report that revealed the total number of misassigned voters was 3,060; however, the most concerning revelation was that the DCEC was aware of the issue for more than six months before November's general election. In fact, unbeknownst to the general public=, data adjustments were being made between the May and August elections. While the report focuses on e human error and redistricting complications as the main culprits of the disastrous mistakes which led to a political uproar in the final days of a contentious midterm election, it also shows that manual edits were made in June by DCEC staff, which resulted in errors that affected 1,544 voters.
A HALF MILLION TAX DOLLARS TO FUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Background: Originally earmarked to fund out-of-state abortions, the Metro City Council voted to allocate five hundred thousand in taxpayer dollars toward programs run by Planned Parenthood on October 4, 2022. In response to the trigger laws outlawing abortion in the state of Tennessee, the council re-routed the funds away from the regular pay of fourteen other departments and programs; the largest cut (ninety thousand) will come from Metro PD.
Update: Though public backlash about the funding going toward transportation and accommodations for out-of-state abortions ultimately led to its removal from the legislation, taxpayers will still be backing a grant to Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi to “provide comprehensive sexual health education in Nashville and Davidson County, and distribution of safer sex supply kits, family planning counseling, birth control counseling, and birth control products.”
The possibilities of what will be implemented to fulfill these parameters is endless due to the ambiguity of the legislation. Planned Parenthood has a few varied lists of the supplies made available in safer sex supply kits online. Though we have no idea what will end up in the sex kits provided in Davidson county, there is little deviation from the following items recorded and promoted as available in kits promoted by the nonprofit: “assorted barrier methods (including latex and non-latex external condoms, external flavored condoms, internal condoms, dental dams, lube, and finger cots), information on health care options, and information on how to get involved.” It is also unclear where, when, how, or to whom these kits will be distributed.
- Stadium Deal: For The People? Since this half-baked (cough, $3.4 billion) deal is still unfolding, we stuck this in the honorable mention category, despite the possibility of it being the largest publicly-funded stadium deal in US history.
- Tennessee Soldiers See A Flicker Of Hope After Being Left Behind After our reporting on the status of unvaccinated state military members left in limbo, the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act may roll back mandates–though unvaccinated troops who were discharged may not be reinstated.
- Tennessee Gop Planning To Shrink Metro Council After Rnc Rejection After the fiery back-and-forth between the Metro Council and Tennessee Republican leaders, it looks as though we will see legislation that will shrink Nashville’s Metro City Council from forty members to twenty.
- Exposure Of Vanderbilt Gender Clinic Triggers 2023 Legislation After an onslaught of public scrutiny surrounding gender reassignment surgeries performed on minors, Republican legislators filed new legislation to ban the practice.Democrats Run Pro-Abortion Campaigns After The Overturning Of Dobbs After trigger laws abolished abortions in Tennessee after the overturning of the court ruling in the Dobbs case, Tennesseans were subjected to a number of pro-abortion campaigns run by Democratic candidates.
➫ BEST OF THE PAMPHLETEER 2022
There are many cliches to say regarding 2022, but I'd prefer to let our work speak for itself. 2022 was the first year that we committed wholeheartedly to pumping out more original reporting, insights, and information.
Here are some of our favorites:
- January 3rd, 2022: The Dollar Tree Economy Dollar Tree has become the go-to symbol of Bidenflation and a scapegoat for corporate greed. But it’s the discount giant’s role in rural America that is most telling about our nation’s cultural divide, Jerod Hollyfield
- April 20th, 2022: The Kill Switch Hidden behind the din of the COVID and Russia emergencies, the state has found yet another cause that it can use to transform public life under the guise of safety: drunk driving deaths, Edward Landstreet
- June 8th, 2022: The Exit/In Cashes in on Nashville's Identity Crisis One of the city’s oldest indie music venues comes to terms with its role in New Nashville and the self-styled martyrdom that has defined it over the past year, Jerod Hollyfield
- July 5th, 2022: On Seeing 2000 Mules Critics’ neglect of the year’s most polarizing film is deplorable, Jerod Hollyfield
- July 20th, 2022: The Revolution Must Go On A Nashville columnist beseeches NYT liberals to move to the Volunteer State to change it, Davis Hunt
- August 16th, 2022: The Free Reign of Porn in the West As we’ve evolved from Playboy to Pornhub, today’s pornography captures our attention and energy far more powerfully than the centerfold delights stashed away under the mattress in generations past, Jano Tantongco
- August 24th, 2022: Larry Arnn Was Right About Teachers The Hillsdale College president should be rewarded for his candor, especially after our experience reaching out to Metro Nashville Public Schools, Jerod Hollyfield
- September 23rd, 2022: The Bachelorette Problem A review of Nashville Bachelorettes: A Ben Oddo Investigation, Davis Hunt
- September 28th, 2022: Book Review: 'Hot Spot: A Doctor's Diary From the Pandemic' by Alex Jahangir Nashville's "COVID Czar" reflects on the pandemic while refusing to own up to his mistakes, Matt Malkus
- October 26th, 2022: Guilty Until Proven Innocent The Department of Defense pandemic policy continues to leave many Tennessee Guardsmen in limbo, Megan Podsiedlik
- December 6th, 2022: Thousands are Without Water in Sevier and Jefferson Counties A combination of neglect and corruption has kept some East Tennessee residents from receiving clean drinking water, Geneva DeCobert
𝓧 CHART OF THE DAY: TIMES CHANGE
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
👨🏻🌾 Check out Nashville's winter farmer's markets on our farmer's market guide.
🎧 Listen to the Pamphleteer's Picks on Spotify, a playlist of our favorite bands in town each week.
🎷 Jazzy Monday @ Helen's Hot Chicken, 8p, $13, Info
🕺 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info
🎹 Jazz Jam @ The Villager, 11p, Free, Info
ON THE RADAR
🎻 Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninoff @ The Schermerhorn, 1/21, 8p, $25, Info
🎸 Tedeschi Trucks Band @ Ryman, 1/23-25, 8p, $49.50, Info
🎻 Billy Strings @ Bridgestone, 1/24-25, 8p, Info
🎻 Billy Strings @ Ryman, 1/26, 8p, Info
+ Only elligible if you purchased a ticket to one of his previous nights' Bridgestone shows
🎙 Weyes Blood @ Brooklyn Bowl, 2/22, 8p, $23+, Info
🎸 Goose @ The Ryman, 3/31-4/1, Info
Around the Web
Emily Anthes writes that among traffic engineers, “in the last decade or so, a few iconoclasts have begun making roads more hazardous — narrowing them, reducing visibility, and removing curbs, center lines, guardrails, and even traffic signs and signals. These roads, research shows, are home to significantly fewer crashes and traffic fatalities.” Reporting the findings of Dumbaugh and of Ian Lockwood, a traffic engineer in Orlando, Anthes writes that having on-street parking or bike lanes makes drivers more careful, as does having buildings that come right up to the street, as this seems to give drivers the sense that others are watching them. It is to be hoped that such a face to face environment will pull even the Mercedes driver out of the goings-on in his electronic cockpit.
The design of these shared spaces not only influences public safety, but would also seem to play a more far-reaching role in society, through the kind of moral psychology that they promote. Roads are tacitly pedagogical, as are cars. They can foster circumspection — literally looking around for others, and regarding oneself as an object for others in turn — or a collection of atomized me-worlds. In the latter case, we tend not to encounter one another unless we literally collide with them.
Source: The Case for Dangerous Roads and Low-Tech Cars
The Cut, 2 April 2015, Read Online
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Words of Wisdom
"Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection."
Today's newsletter is brought to you by Megan Podsiedlik (Nashville), Edward Landstreet (Local Noise), and Davis Hunt (everything else).